SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF/CNN) — A fundraiser for President Donald Trump at the posh Portola Valley hills home of Sun Microsystems cofounder Scott McNealy raised $3 million for his re-election campaign, an official said Wednesday.
California’s National Republican Committeewoman Harmeet Dhillon told CNN that 400 people attended the afternoon gathering on the $98 million Silicon Valley estate and others had to be turned away.
“The President has millions of supporters in California,” Dhillon said. “There was not a single empty seat there.”
The stop was one of four in the state, staged over the last two days, that raised a combined today of $15 million. It also highlights the ability of the White House incumbent to find support in pockets of the nation’s most populous state, even as he spars with its elected officials and celebrity residents.
“He’s President and he’s very popular with Republicans,” Dhillon told CNN.
The biggest windfall of Trump’s California swing: the $5 million raised Tuesday night at the gated Beverly Hills home of real-estate developer Geoff Palmer, who has supported the President in the past and recently hosted Vice President Mike Pence for a fundraiser.
More than 900 people attended, and Trump spoke for 45 minutes, White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham told reporters.
On Wednesday, Trump was expected to collect another $7 million at two events: $3 million at a breakfast at the Intercontinental Hotel in downtown Los Angeles and $4 million at a luncheon in San Diego.
Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, who has been informally involved in the re-election effort, tagged along for his West Coast visit.
The President, who filed his reelection paperwork the day he was sworn into office, is raising money at a pace unprecedented for a modern president. And his two-day haul surpasses the nearly $12 million that California’s home-state Sen. Kamala Harris raised during the entire April-to-June fundraising quarter in her bid for the Democratic presidential nomination.
However, advance details of the President’s California fundraising activities were kept under tight wraps in the days leading up to his visit.
After billionaire real-estate developer Stephen Ross faced serious backlash for hosting a fundraiser for the President last month in the Hamptons, an official familiar with how the fundraisers are planned said there has been an active effort underway in recent weeks to keep the names of those hosting the fundraisers out of the press.
Dhillon also cited violent demonstrations that broke out during Trump’s 2016 visit to California as a candidate as a reason for the secrecy surrounding his events this week.
For decades now, Republicans in California have been receding into the political wilderness, but Trump appears to be accelerating that decline.
There is no Republican official elected statewide in California, and the GOP’s last grip on power was the number of seats they held in Congress. But that grip was weakened in the 2018 midterm elections. Trump’s policies brought out outraged Democratic voters — particularly women — in droves and they succeeded in flipping more than a half-dozen seats from red to blue.
The number of registered independents in California (28.3%) has also been rising. Democrats, who make up 43% of the electorate, vastly outnumber Republicans here (23.6%), according to data from the Public Policy Institute of California. The institute has found that more Californians favor Trump’s impeachment than the nation as a whole, and 65% of voters said they would choose a candidate other than the President in the election next year.
Still, Trump — whose approval rating has hovered around 40% nationally — enjoys strong support from Republicans here: 84% of GOP voters approve of the job that Trump has done as President, while 43% of independents and 8% of Democrats approve, according to the latest PPIC survey.
Gov. Gavin Newsom has relished the fight against Trump’s agenda, stating that California is the “progressive answer to a transgressive president.”
The two tangled this week over the Trump administration’s decision to revoke California’s waiver with the Environmental Protection Agency, which allowed the state to set more stringent vehicle emissions standards than those set at the federal level.
California had been so successful in negotiating with auto makers in their efforts to curb greenhouse gas emissions and address air quality issues that 13 states and the District of Columbia follow at least some portion of their Advanced Clean Car Program.
“One thing I won’t do is capitulate,” Newsom told CNN’s Kyung Lah in an interview about his contentious relationship with the commander-in-chief before Trump formally announced that his administration would revoke the vehicle emissions waiver.
“Look stay out of our way, let California continue, not to survive, but thrive, despite the headwinds, despite everything you’re doing to try to put sand in the gears of our success.”
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